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Council defers E-District resolution

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By PATRICK HALL
The Wilson Post
Members of the Lebanon City Council will wait until the New Year before digging into a resolution that asks for amendments to state law to allow for the creation of an entertainment district and authority board by deferring the resolution during Tuesday nights meeting.

Ward 6 Councilor Kathy Warmath had many questions about the language of the resolution that, if passed, would go to Dist. 17 State Senator Mae Beavers, Dist. 46 State Representative Mark Pody and Dist. 57 State Rep. Linda Elam as it appeared during Tuesday nights meeting with no changes.

"I just have some problems with the verbiage and language in the amendment, Warmath said.

She pointed out the resolution refers to members of the authority board being appointed, not nominated. The seven-member board would oversee the bonds and will capture sales tax revenues within the district to fund the proposed events center.

Ward 1 Councilor Alex Buhler asked why the resolution had to be sent to the Tennessee General Assembly with the composition of the board included. He asked if it could be sent separately after the capturing of the sales tax and establishment of the district are approved.

You have to have the authority or board for these revenues to go to, said City Mayor Philip Craighead.

City Attorney Andy Wright explained there were seven amendments in the resolution and six of them asked for changes to state law allowing for the capturing of state and local sales tax revenues and for the establishment of the district, as well as a change to the definition of a qualified public use facility, so the proposed events center would fit a new definition.

Only one amendment pertains to the creation of the authority board and said the language in the resolution about the board doesnt have to be specific.

The language could be as general as, a board will be created through an interlocal agreement between the city and county, period, Wright said.

The council felt the seven-member board would be immediately created as stated in the resolution if they approved it and sent it to the legislature. Ward 5 Councilor Haywood Barry said the resolution would provide for the creation of the board and would not allow the council to tweak requirements after it was approved.

Weve gotten a lot of information in a small amount of time, Warmath said.

She called the proposal proactive and engaging but wanted time to work out language in the resolution before passing it on to the legislature. She asked for a work session to focus solely on the language of the resolution after the holidays.

We need to send the best thing we can down there, Craighead said of the resolution.

Pody was present at the meeting and addressed the council briefly after the resolution was deferred. He told the council the deadline for receiving legislation from local governments was being moved up. Normally, local governments have until March to submit public acts.

Pody indicated there were many communities who would be in favor of the amendments proposed and asked the council to give the legislature plenty of time to work with them and have the amendments passed.

This isnt just a law for the city of Lebanon, this is a law for the whole state, said Ward 3 Councilor Rob Cesternino.

Pody said he was supportive of the idea of the entertainment district and noted other cities and counties in the state are interested in having the same kind of facility in the events center and retail space.

The council set a work session on Jan. 4 at 5:30 p.m. to discuss the language in the resolution and nothing else. Cesternino said they needed to work on that and not worry about the large picture at this point in time.

The work session will be held in the Town Meeting Hall at the City of Lebanon Administration Building at 200 N. Castle Heights Avenue.

Staff Writer Patrick Hall may be contacted at phall@wilsonpost.com.

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